Florida Challenge 5K

Yesterday marked my first 5K trail run.  I woke up at 5:45 a.m. to coffee brewing (thank God for automatic timers).  As I opened the door to let the pups out, a blast of arctic air rushed at me.  Look, I realize it is January and all (well it was yesterday, anyway), but this is Florida.  Saturday was a rainy 70 degrees.  I planned to run in shorts and a t-shirt for Pete’s sake.  Instead, I put on sweats over my shorts, opted for a long-sleeve wicking number (by the way, those shirts STINK. I realized that the shirt stinks because I stink after a run… but the smell won’t come out. Detergent doesn’t touch it.  Gross.  Warm and dry, but gross), and threw on a hoodie.  I grabbed a Luna bar, my travel mug of coffee and was out the door by 6:25.

Did I mention that I was so excited about this run that it took me 2 hours to fall asleep on Saturday night?  Yeah.

The Indigo Girls and I made the drive to Lithia, FL pretty seamlessly.  I was a bit worried that Mapquest would lead me to the middle of nowhere… but that worked out because Lithia IS the middle of nowhere.  Sweet.

I pulled into the parking lot and was faced with a new dilemma:  where was I going to put all my stuff?!?  The other runners had buddies there.  My buddy was sound asleep 60 miles away (not Monkito’s fault… she had a previous commitment that we both agreed she should honor).  Now I had to figure out the logistics of staying warm until the race (but not too hot during the race), being able to get back into my car after the race, but still running unencumbered by keys and whatnot.  I finally figured it out, but my figuring took an inordinate amount of time.  Cross logistics off my list of strengths.

I ran with my car key tied inside my shorts and tucked in my underwear.  So there.

As we all lined up at the start, my mouth was so dry I couldn’t have spit if you paid me.  I was bouncing up and down, driven by nervous energy.  And then we were off…

Trail running brings constant surprises, it turns out.  Steep climbs, rapid drops.  Roots and stones protruding from the path.  Some guy twisted his ankle almost immediately.  The path was too narrow to pass people effectively.  For part of the run, I was forced to pace with the woman in front of me, whether I wanted to or not, simply because I couldn’t get around her.  But this turned out to be a boon for me, since I would have run too fast at the beginning and gotten slaughtered by the trail that just wouldn’t let up.  Every time I thought we were going to run on a flat surface for a bit, the trail would drop 3 feet almost straight down.  Several times I almost slammed into a guy in front of me who wanted to walk up the inclines.  Internally I groaned every time  he slowed down… it was hard to regain momentum, and I wanted to use that momentum to climb the damn hill!  Oh, and folks in stinky shirts, the same type of stinky shirt I was wearing, were EVERYWHERE.  I have never been so close to a group of well-groomed people that smelled so awful.  But I couldn’t think about it for too long, because if I did, I might miss that HUGE incline in front of me that required my sprinting and hopping like an antelope to reach its summit.

I finished in the 37 minute range.  I focused so much on sprinting across the finish line that I forgot to look at the clock.  And I didn’t have to walk at all (barring the parts where runners got bottlenecked on the trail), even though I thought several times that this was the most grueling run I had ever endured.

So, the verdict?  Trail running ROCKS!  Seriously, why have I been running anywhere else?

But, dear God in heaven, I am sore today. Ouch.

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4 Comments on “Florida Challenge 5K”

  1. becelisa Says:

    i just stumbled across your blog and i’m curious to know what trails you ran. i live near lithia and love trail running ~ the hillier the better. i only know of a couple trails nearby and they are either flat or you’ve got to run out a couple miles to get to any sort of hills.

    • pensivepea Says:

      The run was at Alafia River State Park. Keep in mind, though, that I have never done ANY trail running… so anything with an incline seems like a hill to me! The trail had steep ups and downs. It is a multi-purpose trail used for biking, too.

  2. becelisa Says:

    anything with even a slight incline IS a big hill in florida! lol. it’s so flat here! i’ve never run at alafia. i’ll have to check it out. thanks for the info.

  3. Miss Kris Says:

    I’m proud of you! We have tons of trails to run around here and I have multiple friends who would show you the best ones. Come out to Seattle and check out our hills!

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